Feds take action against retailers in e-cigarette 'epidemic'

Maricruz Casares
Setiembre 13, 2018

FDADeclaring that "youth use of e-cigarettes is reaching epidemic proportions", the Food and Drug Administration today threatened to remove vaping products from the market unless their manufacturers come up with satisfactory plans to prevent underage consumption.

Despite the fact that they can not legally be sold to anyone under 18, e-cigarettes - hand-held vaporizers that create aerosols from liquids typically packed with nicotine and other chemicals, often including flavorings - are now the most popular tobacco product among high school students, recent federal data shows.

Wells Fargo analyst Bonnie Herzog, in a research note, said Juul appears "most at risk" from the crackdown because of its "strong appeal to youth and the FDA's comments on flavors".

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has said that e-cigarettes, while still harmful, may be effective for adults who want to give up cigarette smoking, which kills nearly half a million Americans each year. "It's aimed at retail and online sales of e-cigarettes to minors". "And we're seriously considering a policy change that would lead to the immediate removal of these flavored products from the market". The FDA declined to release the figures publicly.

The health department said 19 percent of high school students use e-cigarettes.

Multiple studies have showed e-cig users are twice as likely to become cigarette smokers, the health department said. "The disturbing and accelerating trajectory of use we're seeing in youth, and the resulting path to addiction, must end". "If they fail to do so, or if the plans do not appropriately address this issue, the FDA will consider whether it would be appropriate to revisit the current policy that results in these products remaining on the market".

Hutsell says that he lost his mother to lung cancer after she smoked for over 30 years and that he wishes vaping was available for her back then.

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The FDA is trying to set up a framework for regulating e-cigarettes.

Many use fruit- or candy-flavored liquids that critics say appeal to kids, and risk addicting them to nicotine. The FDA took the largest enforcement action against more than 1,300 retailers and five manufacturers of selling e-cigarettes on Wednesday.

"What we have learned from our experience with cigarettes and other products, is it is important to restrict sales to kids, but if you make products appealing to kids, market them in ways to attract kids, you can be certain kids will get them", Myers told AFP.

Produced by San Francisco-based Juul Labs Inc., Juul devices resemble a USB thumb drive and have become popular among students. Earlier this year, the FDA opened an inquiry into Juul's practices, and has requested documents to show its strategy.

Juul Labs said it would work with the FDA and is committed to preventing underage use of its product. A government-commissioned report in January found "substantial evidence" that young people who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try cigarettes.

Matt Hutsell, local co-owner of WC Vapor in Salem, says his shop's goal is to provide a less harmful alternative to cigarettes and he will continue to comply with all FDA regulations. They're generally considered a less unsafe alternative to regular cigarettes.

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